“It’s a definite WTF moment.”
2008 submarine cable disruption refers to three separate incidents of major damage to submarine optical cables. The first incident caused damage involving up to five high-speed Internet submarine communications cables in the Mediterranean Sea and Middle East from 23 January to 4 February 2008, causing internet disruptions and slowdowns for users in the Middle East and India. The incident called into doubt the safety of the undersea portion of the Internet cable system.
In late February there was another outage, this time affecting a fiber optic connection between Singapore and Jakarta.
On 19 December, FLAG FEA, GO-1, SEA-ME-WE 3, and SEA-ME-WE 4 were all cut.
Britain runs a secret internet-monitoring station in the Middle East to intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies, The Independent has learnt.
The station is able to tap into and extract data from the underwater fibre-optic cables passing through the region.
The information is then processed for intelligence and passed to GCHQ in Cheltenham and shared with the National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States. The Government claims the station is a key element in the West’s “war on terror” and provides a vital “early warning” system for potential attacks around the world.
The Independent is not revealing the precise location of the station but information on its activities was contained in the leaked documents obtained from the NSA by Edward Snowden. The Guardian newspaper’s reporting on these documents in recent months has sparked a dispute with the Government, with GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives containing the data.
The Middle East installation is regarded as particularly valuable by the British and Americans because it can access submarine cables passing through the region. All of the messages and data passed back and forth on the cables is copied into giant computer storage “buffers” and then sifted for data of special interest.
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